It’s rare that I review expensive wines. But occasionally one runs across my tongue that sends tingles through my nervous system that channel through my fingers. Happened recently when I popped open a bottle of Sea Smoke, a cult winery from the Santa Rita Hills in southern California’s Santa Barbara County.
Sometimes cult wines are cult for a reason. This winery quietly and meticulously babies their pinot noir grapes grown at their estate vineyard. They coddle ten different clones of Pinot Noir, in different blocks that are hand-harvested and fermented separately so the winery staff becomes intimate with — literally– what each corner of the vineyard can do. This borderline obsessive attention to detail shows in every drop of this magnificent wine. They simply make exquisite, breathtaking Pinot Noir wines that are Really. Worth. The. Money.
“Ten” is a blend of all of those clones, spending 16 months in new French oak, and tastes like elegance defined. Slightly earthy, red cherry, supple tannins, a hint of cocoa, vanilla and a soft whisper of a lingering fruity finish. It’s like it doesn’t want to disturb you. “Ten” is truly the brilliant, sexy woman in the silky dress at the party… awaiting to seduce you. At $80, you could probably buy her time. And it’d be worth it.
Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Occasion: Sent as a sample from the winery. I’m humbled.
Availability: Only in fine wine shops and on restaurant wine lists. Widely distributed. See a list of distributors here